Hobbs and Hager are elected to Mount Airy Town Council Incumbent says 9th term will be his last on panel

May 06, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Mount Airy voters elected longtime incumbent R. Delaine Hobbs and newcomer Laurie Hager to four-year terms on the Town Council. Hobbs said his ninth term will be his last.

Four candidates sought two Town Council seats. Mayor Gerald R. Johnson ran unopposed for a third term.

About 22 percent, or 621, of Mount Airy's 2,826 registered voters cast ballots in the nonpartisan municipal election Monday. Mount Airy, which straddles Carroll and Frederick counties, has 1,321 voters on the Carroll side of town, and 1,505 on the Frederick side.

Hobbs received 377 votes, and Hager won 315. Incumbent C. Robert Mead got 269 votes in his bid for a second term, and challenger Roger Rich received 252.

Johnson received 478 votes.

Some town residents described the election as "old Mount Airy vs. new Mount Airy," but the candidates rejected the characterization as a divisive approach to the election.

The contest sparked Mount Airy's first candidate forum, organized by a subcommittee of the Mount Airy Pro-Active Committee, a citizens group working to obtain a community high school and a recreation center.

Won't run again

Hobbs, 63, who is council president, said he will not run again after his ninth term ends in 2002 because he will have been on the council for "way over half my lifetime." He is in the Maryland Municipal League Hall of Fame as one of the state's longest-serving municipal elected officials.

Hobbs said he was surprised by the election results.

"With two candidates [Hager and Rich] from the Frederick County side, I thought I was gone," he said.

Hager, 34, a homeowners association leader and former Mount Airy Jaycees member, was operating on four hours' sleep the day after the election, but was at her desk at the Food and Drug Administration, where she is a program specialist.

She bolstered her election effort with 1,600 leaflets and as much door-to-door campaigning as her schedule allowed.

'Younger perspective'

"I got the consensus that while people didn't have a contentious issue, they did want someone with a younger perspective, a female perspective, someone more diplomatic," Hager said.

She is the first woman elected to the council since 1989.

Hager got involved in local government five years ago as the leader of an effort to get the developer of Tall Oaks subdivision, where she lives, to complete promised projects.

She said she hopes the mayor will consider her for the streets and roads committee, an assignment held by Mead. She wants to assess progress on a study of roads needs done by the town staff several years ago, she said.

"There have been great improvements in the town signing off on roads [in subdivisions]," she said. "We want to be stringent with sign-offs, stick to our guns," to make sure the infrastructure is in good condition when the town accepts it for public maintenance, she said.

Rich, 37, chairman of the Mount Airy Pro-Active Committee, said the campaign was a good one.

"We gave them a wide range of choices, of age and demographics," he said.

He said he believed Hager's candidacy brought out newer residents and increased the number of women voting.

Pub Date: 5/06/98

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